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Miami 2012 - Tipsarevic tattoo

Janko Tipsarevic column: I'm a diplomat in surf shorts


Exclusive: world No 9 Janko Tipsarevic writes for The Tennis Space:

It’s been a busy time of year for all of us and we seem to have been travelling even more this year – perhaps it was the Olympics that added to it. When travelling, anything that helps make it even a little bit easier is helpful. Some of you may know that after we won the Davis Cup, we were given diplomatic visas by Serbia – that was a really nice touch.

The ministry of foreign affairs came to my home, picked up my passport and they get all the visas we need – they just give it back to us so we don’t have to do a thing, apart from telling them that we don’t have a visa. It’s been great, except when I went to London for Wimbledon and I realised my visa had run out! I was convinced it was for five years but it turns out it was just two. It was a bit unfortunate but we sorted it out in the end.

Having a diplomatic passport is great but it sounds a bit better than it actually is. A lot of people say to me, ‘so, you can do stuff abroad and because you’re a diplomat, you won’t get arrested’ but it’s not quite that way. Of course, being able to cut lines at airports is really good. When I landed in Montreal last year, there were two planes from Asia that landed just before us and it was the longest passport line in the history of the world. I remember I was dressed like a complete lunatic, with surf shorts and glasses, but the diplomatic passport line was completely empty. So I started to go in that line and immediately, three police officers started running towards me. I was really happy to be able to flash my badge and say ‘sorry, I’m a foreign diplomat’.

Because we travel a lot, you would think I would be good at packing my bags but I’m really not. I have Oakley suitcases – the best suitcases in the world – which are huge, but generally I don’t even unpack. I just open them and once I’ve used a shirt or shorts or socks for practice, I just put them in a dirty laundry bag and it comes back clean. When I came back from the French Open, after being away for five weeks, I finished unpacking everything and I thought, ‘shit, why did I do that? I have to do it all again in one day’. Of course, my wife loves packing. And she takes all the shelves and wardrobes when we are in the hotels, so I don’t have much room anyway. I don’t really have a vote in it.

My wife travels with me a lot and having her there at tournaments is great. The best thing, apart from that I have a great time, is that I rarely get homesick. When she is with me, I feel like I can be on tour for two months and still have a fresh mind and play well. I’ve often played my best tennis when we’ve been away together for a long time. When you have that kind of support, it’s much easier mentally, you’re not always thinking you should be at home with family and friends. When we are apart, it’s not as good – we talk at least once a day but I am not a big phone talker. In fact, I hate talking on the phone in general.

My wife is also very supportive. If I win, it’s easy but if I lose a match, but I have given my best, she is still really happy and then the bad feeling in me goes away pretty fast. If it’s a tough loss then I am not the same for a day or two and instead of going out for dinner we might just stay in and watch a movie or something. I really care and I am really pissed off when I lose but the good thing about this sport is that even if you have a bad loss, the next Monday you are on the court again and can forget about it.

Being at tournaments, we sometimes have to spend a lot of time at the club, on court and waiting for matches, but if I can help it, I get out of there as soon as possible. I go to my hotel room and do my normal stuff. When you have all the Serbians in the same tournament then it can be great fun to hang out but in general, if you look at the top guys, you don’t see Federer or Rafa hanging around if they don’t have to.  The older I am and the higher my ranking has become, the less I try to hang around for no reason.

You probably all know that I quite like to use a video camera myself for Tipsy Time (check it out on YouTube) but someone asked me recently what I thought about the TV cameras that were allowed to come into the locker rooms at the French Open this year. I didn’t mind because they did not video me – they were really just interested in the French players, I think. I can see that for fans it is probably great but I am not sure if I would be a big fan if someone was standing next to me and filming me while my coach is telling me tactics. As long as they are not too intrusive, though, and are not too much in your face, they wouldn’t bother me too much.


  • Gabriela172

    Hi Janko! I really enjoy reading your notes :) Maybe next time you’ll write about “real face” of your rivals from world top ATP? How they behave in everyday relations? Greetings! And good luck in Cincinnati!

  • Arkaim

    I don’t quite get the idea of handling people diplomatic passports. It’s not just a privilege, it’s a huge responsibility. Serbian Foreign Office must be a very trusting one (not suggesting Serbian athletes are potential criminals, but they aren’t public officials either).